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America's Rock Art of the Cosos

19 Jan 2015
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In a paper by Alan P. Garfinkel, David A. Young and Robert M. Yohe II entitled 'Bighorn hunting, resource depression, and rock art in the Coso Range, eastern California: a computer simulation model', [Journal of Archaeological Science 37 42-51] the authors shed light on this ancient and elegant rock art; rock art that represents one of the largest concentrations of rock drawings in all of North America. The paper assesses the dating of the rock art, created by the Coso Pre-Numics, and shows a correlation between bighorn depletion and increased rock art production.

rock art petroglyphs of Coso in North America

The Coso Range of Eastern California has been occupied by humans since the Paleoindian period. The early inhabitants of the area left pecked rock images in very large numbers. Beginning between 2,000 and 1,500 B.C. and ending at roughly A.D. 1,300, aboriginal people lefty an elaborate record of hunting scenes with bighorn sheep as their prey. Over time the images become more naturalistic, larger in size and the image count increases remarkably during its peak period of production and then and then inexplicably at its peak after about A.D. 1,300 the art ceased being produced. There are at least 100,000 individual rock art images represented in the Coso petroglyph record and it is estimated that about half are depictions of bighorn sheep. Other carvings depict figures and geometric symbols.

shaman figures in the Coso rock engravings

The authors go on to present an ecological predator-prey computer simulation of the human populations, the sheep population, and the rock art 'population', demonstrating these proposed interconnections and an understanding of the rock art production rate.

coso rock art

Since this paper, a new film 'TALKING STONE: ROCK ART OF THE COSOS' has been released. Dr. Alan P. Garfinkel has teamed up with the accomplished film maker Paul Goldsmith ASC, to explore and explain this ancient and elegant rock art.

TALKING STONE examines the salient theories associated with this particular rock art, bringing to light the importance of the powerful bighorn sheep, and the animal ceremonialism that existed in this region for the many generations of the Coso people.

Watch the film now as an HD download, or purchase the DVD in the iShop:



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